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“This service that you have performed is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:12 (NIV)
Service is a form of work, and work is a form of worship. This important word, in its various forms, appears in the NIV Bible over 1,100 times.
Some of us work in the military service, public service, civil service, customer service, church service, even at service stations. 1 Corinthians 12:5 tells us that there are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
To serve God’s way means to do so from a generous heart of love. And to divinely serve, we must first understand the nature and character of a willing servant:
John 12:26 says, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be . . .” A servant partners intimately with God.
Matthew 20:26 says, “. . . whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” A servant is humble.
Luke 12:35 says, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning.” A servant is prepared and vigilant.
Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” A servant sacrifices lovingly.
God rewards His faithful and loving servants with an inheritance (Is. 65:9). He protects them and vindicates them (Is. 54:17). He redeems them (Ps. 34:22). He recognizes them (1Cor. 16:18). He promotes them (Matt. 24:45, Jh. 15:15, Phil. 2:9). And He gives them righteousness and peace (Rom. 14:17-18).
The Bible speaks of how rare servant leadership has been in Biblical times and continues to be today in Luke 22:26 (see NIV note) as defined in 1 Peter 5:2—to be willing, eager examples, not lording their authority over those whom God has entrusted in their care. Those of us who have worked under difficult bosses understand what this means.
God cultivated a servant’s heart in me during my many years of working as a flight attendant, where seniority reigned, and I was presented with plenty of opportunities to serve hundreds of people a day. This was a very humbling job assignment that involved picking up trash, aiding sick passengers and serving food and drink, frequently on little sleep in cramped, hot spaces. Even though I would often jokingly say that it was my indentured servant job—meaning that I worked to travel—I knew in my heart that God had me there to work in me and through me.
Luke 22:26-27 puts it in perspective: “. . . the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
Indeed, true divine service is both a noble and humble action. It involves doing that which the Father instructs us to do with faithfulness and wholeheartedness (1Sam. 12:24), praise and obedience (Ps. 103:2).
And attitude matters. Philippians 2:5 tells us that our “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,” which is one of humility. Romans 14:17-18 tells us that when we live righteously, peacefully and joyfully, we are “pleasing to God and approved by men.” This is a key to getting along with others. Proverbs 14:35 says, “A king delights in a wise servant.” Now here is a precept for getting promoted.
In John 15:15, Jesus calls His servants His “friends” because true servants of Christ are also His true friends in that they are so intimately involved with Him that they know His business. They are His inner circle or “inner court.”